How to Push Through Your Discomforts In Order to Write Your Book

Much like exercising can become a habit, writing can become one, too. You just have to show up. Every. Single. Day. Even when you really would rather hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off first thing in the morning or head straight home from work and lay in bed. When something’s a habit, you know the benefits of showing up even when you don’t really want to.

 

When you decide that you’re too busy or too tired to work on your novel, what you’re actually doing is avoiding discomfort. Before you even begin writing, you need to know what it is that’s keeping you from doing it now to prevent that particular fear from sneaking back into your mind.

 

If your goal is to write a book and you keep putting it off, you need to figure out why you think sitting down to write a novel is uncomfortable. Aside from the obvious answers like it’s too much work and that you don’t have enough time. Otherwise, that first morning you would rather hit the snooze button, you’re brain is going to have a really good story to tell itself to keep you from getting out of bed.

 

People never start things for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re  scared that if you write a novel, it will make you look smarter than your little brother. Or you’re afraid of that people will think your book is garbage. What you’re really fearing is your sibling being mad at you and your loved ones (or strangers!) judging you, which is normal.

 

To reframe those negative thoughts into positive ones in order to get you excited to write your novel, try this little activity I use in my online coaching program The 90 Day Novel: A Guide to Writing Your First Draft In 90 Days Or Less:

 

  1. Write down all the reasons why you suspect you’re afraid to get started.
  2. Once you have your reasons, write down why you might be feeling that way. Be honest. You need to dig deep here and call out your insecurities.
  3. Once you have your why, reframe your belief so that writing your novel will be awesome.

 

Here are some examples:  

 

Bad thought: If I write a novel, my brother will think I’m trying to make him look stupid.

Why: I think my brother will accuse me of making him look stupid because he dropped out of college and is having trouble finding a job. My parents are always getting on him for never trying his hardest.

Better Thought: If I write a novel, my brother will be proud of me. Pursuing my dreams could even inspire him to pursue his. If not, I am not responsible for the way he reacts to my accomplishments.

 

Bad Thought: If I write a novel, Sheila will want to read it because she’s my best friend. Sheila is a journalist. If my book sucks, she’s going to think less of me.  

Why: Sheila writes for a living, which is what I want to do. If a writer thinks I’m bad, then I don’t deserve to call myself a writer.

Better Thought: Sheila loves young adult fantasy novels, which is exactly what I’m writing. She will probably love the story because it will be written in my own unique voice and it’s such a great story. What my loved ones think of my novel matters a lot, but I have no control over how Sheila (or anyone else) feels. Not everyone is going to love what I write, but I love what I write, and I’m proud of the hard work I put into my novel.

 

Do you see a trend here? Both positive beliefs emphasis how we have NO control over how other people are going to react to our writing. This is something that we must accept and get over from the start. The great thing is, while you’re writing your first draft, nobody in the world is anxiously waiting for you to publish it yet. Even the people who tell you they can’t wait to read your book? They’re likely not pressuring you to freaking finish it already, are they?

 

Once you have all of your uncomfortable beliefs listed and reframed as positive ones, take the positive beliefs and put them somewhere where you can see them everyday. Each time a negative thought comes to mind, immediately kick it in the rear and replace it with your positive belief.

 

If these positive beliefs sound too silly to find believable, look at things from this perspective: You have spent so much time (maybe even decades) telling yourself that you aren’t good enough to do this or that. What if all of that negative self-talk is a lie, and the truth is that you really, truly are good enough for what you want? You’ve just been spending all your time living a lie to truly believe in yourself.  

 

Showing the world who you truly are is scary. There’s always going to be someone who isn’t on board with the true you, and sometimes it’s the people we love the most. But withholding yourself of your passions is a serious shame. This is why I created The 90 Day Novel course: to encourage people to tackle their inner-BS and the lies that they’ve been telling themselves in order to sit down and write the novel they’ve always dreamed of writing. We are only guaranteed one short, beautiful life. Make it count and be your best damn self.

 

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I am the Machine

I am the Machine.

I operate for you.

Turn me off and turn me on,

Create your company for two.

Keep me for your conversation, 

Keep me to mend the pain 

Of a sad and lonely stranger 

Whose happiness is feigned. 

I will do as you tell me to.

I will rinse off all the plates. 

I will hold your fragile, fiddling hand,

As your heart, whom Sorrow breaks. 

You don’t ever have to worry,

That’s what my job is for. 

For when you need to blow off steam, 

My pride can hit the floor.

But once your bed, I’ve made endear.  

And you’re drifting off to sleep. 

Thoughts I’ll stew, I’ll drift off too.

And grin from ear to ear.  

Dreaming of the open air 

And what it’s like to breathe.

But I’ll never quit, my work is it. 

I am the Machine. 

Strange Birds

In elementary school there was this girl named Elizabeth Souza with whom I shared an unrequited friendship. Elizabeth was very fond of me but she was peculiar, and being the little asshole that I was, I was repulsed by her. 

Elizabeth was not conventionally pretty. She was a Quentin Blake drawing from a Roald Dahl book come to life; colorless and barely not a stick figure. Her body was fragile and pale, and the tiny point at the tip of her nose curled just enough to keep her thin, circular glasses from sliding off. And occasionally I caught her shaking her shoulders to a song in her head and smiling to herself, content in her own little world. I just didn’t get Elizabeth the way Elizabeth got Elizabeth.
She and I liked the same boy, too–Brandon Timble. Brandon was short and lovably chubby. He was charming-chubby. Once I had become so self-conscious over our love triangle that I wrote an awful letter to Brandon from Elizabeth that revealed her crush on him. In the letter I wrote (as Elizabeth) that I wanted to have sex with Brandon, which was something that she said to me before and was the first thing that came to mind when I decided to pen that garbage.
Elizabeth’s mom knew that it was me and called me out on it one day as she was volunteering in our class. She made me feel really guilty about it, too. That was the first time I had done something horrible to another person and I had been caught, and vicious thoughts sizzled inside of me as I was being talked down to by this adult who wasn’t my parent. I got my revenge on Mrs. Souza when I picked my nose and rubbed my boogers on her couch while waiting for my mom to pick me up from their house the day after Elizabeth’s big sleepover. I’d like to know if she ever found that or if the couch is in someone’s living room to this day with my boogers still in tact.
Elizabeth used to call me on my landline every afternoon and we would talk for hours. That was a long time to talk to someone you didn’t particularly like. I can hardly hold a conversation with people I do like for twenty minutes before growing bored so I can only imagine the agony I endured while on the phone with Elizabeth.
One day while we were talking I mentioned that I liked singing and Elizabeth got excited about it.
“Sing for me!” she said, and even though we weren’t in the same room together I could tell she was bouncing up and down, looking forward to the musical entertainment she had begged out of me.
“Okay,” I said confidently and walked over to my CD player. I put Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly” album on and played the opening track, “Honey.” To those unfamiliar with the hit song, “Honey” starts with a series of finger snaps and Mariah’s infamous inaudible sing-moaning.
Suddenly I heard her dad repeatedly telling me to “turn that down.” His voice grew more stern each time he said it. “It’s too loud!” he said again, this time just below a shout.
At the time I thought it was bizarre that he could hear Mariah playing from the phone and I wondered if the music really was that loud. But it wasn’t. Looking back I could only assume now that her parents were either listening in on the other end or she had me on speaker phone this whole time. Either way my privacy felt violated and I cannot help but dislike Elizabeth even more for withholding such information from me as I unmasked my vulnerability to her.
I wasn’t very nice to Elizabeth and eventually our friendship faded. For the remainder of my adolescence I managed to avoid being forced into a best friendship against my will. It didn’t happen again until I was in college and met a girl named Lauren.
Lauren was sweet and reminded me a lot of Elizabeth; she was also fragile and stick-thin with straight black hair and bangs that covered her brows and brushed against her eyelashes. She wore black everyday and was tanned with little freckles on her round checks. Most of all, Lauren was always smiling even when it wasn’t necessary to smile.
I didn’t dislike Lauren, but whenever she extended an invitation to me to come over to her house, my pathetic list of excuses came pouring out of me like water shooting out of a busted fire extinguisher. I just didn’t want to hang out with her as badly as she wanted to hang out with me.
I guess one day my excuses had dried up because I found myself going out with her then driving her back to her house to hang out. I don’t recall very well what we did when we went out but I remember taking her home.
Lauren lived in a small house with her mom and dad (and maybe a brother or a sister?). I parked in front of her house and as soon as we stepped out of my car I could hear a child screaming from inside. But Lauren didn’t grunt over this. She remained her quiet, yet cheerful self as she practically skipped to the front door.
I was already coming up with reasons to leave.
When we walked inside, her pet parrot squealed from its cage in the kitchen and it dawned on me that he was the screaming child. Most birds are really interesting but this one was a nightmare; the equivalent of those kids you see in public that do bad things in front of their parents and you know that it’s a result of unfortunate DNA; there isn’t much their parents can do beyond deal with it.
Nobody paid any mind to the parrot.
Lauren’s parents were sitting in the living room, her mom on a rusted, old recliner and dad lounging comfortably in a little leather love seat. Her mom was heavyset and looked a lot like Lauren. She had the same straight black hair with bangs, dark, shiny skin and round cheeks. Lauren’s dad was thin and wore blue denim jeans with a white shirt tucked in.
They were identical to Elizabeth’s parents.
I met and spoke with them briefly and got the sense that they thought Lauren and I were really good friends but I hardly knew her.
We went into her bedroom, which was white with a lot of black and red posters on the wall. Darkness was the theme of her existence, it seemed. She smiled as she plopped on her bed and got excited to show me this graphic novel that she was reading that I thought was really weird. It was about a wizard and I can vaguely recall analyzing the panels of the wizard wandering through a neighborhood at night. Instead of actually reading the dialogue I was trying to think of something nice to say about it. I told Lauren that I thought the art was really interesting. If I had been honest it may have hurt Lauren’s feelings.
Then we watched an even odder show on her computer.
I had to get out of there. I told her I was tired and didn’t feel very well so I had to go home.
Later she invited me over again and I said I couldn’t because I lived too far away and I didn’t have a driver’s license so my mom didn’t like me driving around too much.
Lauren looked at me strangely and said, “You don’t have a license?” She must have flashed to driving with me and felt deceived.
I really didn’t have my license and my mom allowed me to drive to school but I had to ask permission to go everywhere else. I didn’t want to waste my driving opportunities on Lauren.
I never spoke to her again. It wasn’t difficult to do because we didn’t have any classes together. We lived in the same town and attended the same community college but she had requested to be my friend online. Eventually she just deleted me.
Looking back I don’t think I would have been close friends with Lauren but her oddities are now traits that I value. Elizabeth’s too. They were both strange and marched to the beat of their own drum and I was afraid of that because I didn’t know how to be myself even around myself. They shared the same lonely smile, a smile that only a person who kept to themselves understood.
I spend a lot of time alone now and often when I’m in public and recall a memory that brings me some sort of joy I break into a little smirk that I carry with me long after the memory has passed. Other times I catch myself humming as I’m going for a walk and I get a little embarrassed. Then I think to myself, “well shit, this is what I do now” with acceptance.
It is refreshing to have finally found a little world that I can get lost within while still living in the present world.
Then I finally get it. I GET Elizabeth and Lauren. It took me twenty-five years to reach their level but now I can appreciate their beauty, even if just for a passing moment.